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Beneris (Benefit-Risk Assessment for Food: an Iterative Value-of-Information Approach) is a EU-funded research project for years 2006-2009 (project number Food-CT-2006-022936). It is co-funded by the Sixth Framework Programme of Research of the European Union, Food Quality and Safety Thematic Priority (). The project website.
The general objective of Beneris was to create a framework for handling complicated benefit-risk situations, and apply it for analysis of the benefits and risks of certain foods. The first food commodity to be used in the development of the methodology is fish.
Objectives in developing benefit-risk analysis methods:
- To develop Bayesian belief networks (BBN) to handle complicated benefit-risk situations, and to develop a decision support system (DSS) based on BBN.
- To develop improved methods for dose-response assessment, combining epidemiological and toxicological data, and apply them in combining epidemiological and toxicological information on fish contaminants (esp. dioxins and PCBs).
- To develop an integrated repository of surveillance, nutrient and food consumption data that is capable of receiving, analyzing, and disseminating the accumulated data for benefit-risk analysis and to key stakeholders.
Food safety and risks are a highly sensitive area. Recent food crises have shown that risks related to food must be dealt with in a sophisticated and scientifically justifiable manner. This project will utilise a benefit-risk approach with an iterative top-down approach to explore risks of food and its contaminants. An essential part of the work is to develop and use integrated methods to evaluate both the risks and health benefits related to any given food item. Decision analytical methods will be used to find out the critical uncertainties for decision-making.
Other advancements in the project will be to work on existing databases of food intake and nutrients, and food consumption studies in several European countries, while most previous work has been on national level. The data will be integrated and its applicability to other countries will be studied. This information will be combined to chemical contaminant measurements for an exposure assessment of both nutrients and contaminants. Variability between subpopulations (area, gender, age) will be especially addressed. Health effects of contaminants and nutrients will be estimated by using new methods (to be developed in this project) integrating both epidemiological and toxicological data. Results and methods will be actively disseminated using a new Internet interface and other means, and feedback will be collected during the project.
Major advancements in benefit-risk analysis require highly interdisciplinary work with epidemiologists, toxicologists, nutrition scientists, exposure assessors, risk analysts, and authorities. All these disciplines are represented in this project by several partners. We also have good contacts with potential sources of data in different parts of Europe, and with ongoing or proposed EU projects. End-users and authorities will be involved from the beginning thus improving the science-policy interface, and ensuring that the work has both scientific and societal relevance.
This project forms a cluster with another project in the same call, namely Qalibra. The two projects are tackling the same problems but using complementary methods and approaches. Qalibra is more focussed on developing web-based technical tools for risk assessment, while Beneris concentrates on developing useful approaches and strategies (including extensive case studies) and disseminating them through the web. Close collaboration in and between joint meetings and common dissemination efforts will ensure that the new knowledge developed in one project will be utilised also in the other one. 
- National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Finland, Dr. Jouni T. Tuomisto (coordinator)
- Delft University of Technology (TUDelft), Netherlands, Prof. Roger Cooke
- Oy Foodfiles Ltd, Finland, Pia Karjalainen, nutritionist
- Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), Ireland, Dr. Iona Pratt
- Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Denmark, Dr. Max Hansen
- Food Safety Authority of Denmark (FVST), Denmark, Dr. Kim Petersen
- Lendac Data Systems Ltd, Ireland, Don Lehane, computer analyst
- Fundación Privada para la Investigación Nutricional (FIN), Spain, Prof. Lluis Serra-Majem
For more information:
- Jouni Tuomisto, academy researcher
- THL (National Institute for Health and Welfare)
- Kuopio, Finland. jouni.tuomisto[at]thl.fi
About the project:
- Beneris deliverables
- Beneris project description
- Beneris work packages
- The original Beneris project website
Methods and tools developed in Beneris:
- Note! The development has been a collaborative effort with several projects involved, notably Intarese and Heimtsa.
Food-related information produced in Beneris:
- Baseline intake of PCB from fish in Beneris
- Baseline intake of PCDD/F from fish in Beneris
- Baseline intake of fish oil in Beneris
- Baseline intake of methyl mercury from fish in Beneris
- Benefit-risk assessment of fish consumption for Beneris
- Benefit-risk assessment of methyl mercury and omega-3 fatty acids in fish
- Fish oil intake in Beneris
- Intake of PCB from fish in Beneris
- Intake of PCDD/F from fish in Beneris
- Iodine intake from fish in Beneris
- Methyl mercury intake from fish in Beneris
Health impact information produced in Beneris:
- Intelligence quotient change in children in Beneris
- Myocardial infarction risk in adults in Beneris
- Total cancer risk in adults in Beneris